New Delhi: Seven years after the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in 2013, the Tihar Jail in Delhi is under the spotlight for yet another high-profile execution.
On March 5 this year, a trial court had issued fresh warrants with March 20, 5:30am, as the date for the execution of the convicts - Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) in the Nirbhaya case.
This is the fourth death warrant against the convicts. The earlier three warrants were deferred pending the exhaustion of legal remedies by the convicts.
After the fresh death warrant was issued, the Tihar Jail authorities wrote to their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh requesting for the service of hangman Pawan Jallad, a senior jail official said.
"Pawan Jallad, a hangman from Meerut, has been asked to report at Tihar Jail on March 17, three days ahead of the scheduled date of hanging," said Sandeep Goel, DG (Prisons).
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (the fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died after a fortnight.
Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case.
The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.
While Afzal Guru's hanging was a guarded act, the execution of four death row convicts in the sensational Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, slated for March 20, has been a much-discussed affair.
Afzal Guru, a medical college dropout and resident of Sopore in north Kashmir, was executed at 8 am on February 9, 2013 and buried on the prison premises.
His mercy plea was rejected on February 3, 2013 by then president Pranab Mukherjee. The first hanging date fixed for him was October 20, 2006, according to the book 'Black Warrant' written by former Tihar Jail law officer Sunil Gupta and journalist Sunetra Choudhury.
Since Guru's wife Tabassum filed a mercy plea with then president APJ Abdul Kalam, his hanging could not take place. Kalam and even his successor Pratibha Patil did not take a decision on his hanging, even though Patil pardoned 34 other convicts, the book said.
As part of the ritual before hanging, the jail authorities practice a dummy execution with sandbags according to the prisoner's weight.
The ropes used in the hanging are called 'Manila Ropes', which are especially brought from Buxar Jail in Bihar.